Thousands of visitors and pilgrims have flocked to the 2014 Phu Day festival, which kicked off today (the third day of the third lunar month) at the Phu Day historical and cultural relic site in Kim Thai commune, Vu Ban district, the northern province of Nam Dinh.
The festival is one of the country’s largest and features many traditional rituals including an incense offering ceremony at the main (Tien Huong) temple, recitals of Buddhist scriptures, the palanquin procession at Van Cat temple and the torchlight procession at Tien Huong temple.
Various cultural activities are a central part of the six-day festival. A chau van (spiritual) singing contest is the highlight of the festival, while arts performances as well as lion and dragon dancing also delight audiences.
Festival goers have a chance to participate in traditional folk games like human chess, wrestling and keo chu in which a team of 32 boys under 15 years old arrange a formation to create phrases in Han (Chinese characters) and Nom (former Vietnamese system) scripts.
The Phu Day historical and cultural relic site comprises nearly 20 pagodas, temples and palaces dedicated to the Mother Goddess, Lieu Hanh — one of the four immortal gods in Vietnamese folklore.
The Phu Day festival was recognised as national intangible cultural heritage in November 2013. Nam Dinh provincial authorities are working on a dossier for submission to UNESCO to gain recognition of chau van rituals — ‘Vietnamese Mother Goddesses worship rituals’ — as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.